Anyone who has been to Afghanistan knows that it is a sandy place. It doesn't take long to get sandy clothing and the stuff is taking its toll on military equipment deployed there.
The Belgian air force had a costly experience with sand at the beginning of the month. On the night of 6-7 March, an Illushin transport aircraft mistakenly moved to the parking area of Kandahar air base, raining sand and gravel on three of the four Belgian air force F-16s based there since September as part of the NATO International Security Assistance Force's Operation Guardian Falcon. As a precautionary measure, the engines of the three aircraft were removed for inspection in Belgium.
One of the F-16s was fitted with a reserve engine but two more engines had to be flown in from Belgium by a Belgian air force C-130. The Belgian air force in Afghanistan was down to two F-16s until ground crews working around the clock replaced the engines of the remaining two F-16s, bringing the total back to four as of 11 March.
Belgian air force photos